On June 14, the five Chicago area Bridgescape Academies held their third graduation ceremony at Roberto Clemente High School. Before a packed audience of more than 800 parents, guardians, family members, friends, and Bridgescape staff, Ms. Tara Lawrence conferred high school diplomas upon 203 graduates. It was an evening of excitement, tears, smiles, and so many positive emotions. These students, who were on the verge of not being successful in achieving their high school diploma, have been given the chance to progress forward through Bridgescape Learning Academies.
The graduates were encouraged through an inspiring commencement address given by Dr. Sabrena L. Davis, Student Success Director of EdisonLearning’s Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy in Gary, Indiana. She told them her personal account of how she overcame the struggles of her youth as she matriculated through school to ultimately obtain her post-secondary and post-graduate degrees. Dr. Davis told the graduates that “Tea Bags Live on Bridges”. The central theme of her message was one of hope, determination, and faith.
The “Magic Award” was bestowed upon five of the graduates, who were honored and recognized by their principals for reaching their high school educational goals despite having to overcome various obstacles in their personal lives. Like many of the students who seek out Bridgescape, these outstanding students also had stories, ones of travailing, persisting, and triumphing. The graduates were Shermaine Sewell – Brainerd Campus, Telan Lucas – North Lawndale Campus, Titochie Figures – Englewood Campus, Tatiana Brown – Roseland Campus, and Martin Ovalle – Humboldt Campus.
The success of Bridgescape Learning Academies in Chicago has been realized through the support of our many partners. Each year during graduation, Alderman Carrie Austin, alderman of the 34th Ward, where our Roseland Campus resides, recognizes two of our outstanding students: Jayla Lott and Tatiana Brown. Each student received a plaque and monetary gift from the Alderman’s Education Foundation. These gifts were presented during the graduation ceremony by a representative from the Alderman’s Office.
From their opening in 2013, Chicago Bridgescape Academies have graduated 320 students who, otherwise, may have been unsuccessful in the traditional high school environment in achieving their high school diploma.
On June 24, Norfolk Public Schools’ (NPS) Open Campus/Bridgescape program awarded high school diplomas to its class of 2016.
In congratulating the students, NPS said: “This program has given you the support and direction to overcome obstacles experienced in a traditional high school environment. The demands outside of school can sometimes make traditional classes difficult to attend - that’s why we developed a customized program to meet your needs. School counselors have helped you get back on track. Now, you've earned a standard diploma by outlining the critical steps toward finding a career, enrolling in college or completing a technical degree. Congratulations! You are prepared for the next chapter of your lives.”
On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 35 students from the George V. Voinovich/Bridgescape Learning Academy in Cleveland, Ohio received their diplomas before an assembly of 700 friends, family and supporters. Ms. Kym Seller a well-known Ohio radio personality delivered the Keynote address focused on determination and overcoming obstacles. Ms. Seller is the founder of the Kym Sellers Foundation which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for multiple sclerosis research and awareness. Sophomore students Vania Johnson and her younger brother Kendrick performed and string duet of violin and base. Prior to the Commencement exercises, senior students enjoyed a luncheon with GVRA staff.
On June 10, thirty-one students received their high school diplomas from the Capital High and Road to Success Bridgescape Learning Academies in Columbus, Ohio. Liban Behi was recognized as Valedictorian from Capital High; and Road to Success honored Shianne Jeffers as Valedictorian, and Shaquille Samuels as Salutatorian.
In addition to family and friends, a number of graduates were joined at the ceremony by their children.
In his remarks to the graduates, Thom Jackson commended them for overcoming “difficult challenges” to become high school graduates. He stated,
“This is not a usual graduation ceremony. Because in fact, it is a ceremony that celebrates a truly unique form of success and achievement; success that was best described by the foremost African-American leader and educator, who was born a slave – Booker T. Washington: ‘Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed.’”
Thom further said to the graduates,
“You are to be congratulated not only for your academic success, but for your determination to persevere above and beyond difficult life circumstances to earn their high school diploma. Some of you have stood up to bullying. Some of you dropped everything to help take care of a child or ailing family member. Some, due to your economic situation, were forced to set aside your education.”
In concluding his remarks, he said,
“I also want you to realize that not only have you defied the odds -- not only have you shown your resolve, perseverance, and tenacity -- each one of you has given the gift of hope to every student who will come through the doors of a Bridgescape Academy after you. You are proving that hard work pays off.”
DURHAM -- Graduates of Durham’s Performance Learning Center and Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy were urged Tuesday to “cherish the moment” by guest speaker Rob Boyd, a noted financial leadership coach.
Boyd, a Northern High School graduate who went on to earn degrees at Howard and Georgetown universities, also asked the graduates and their guests to take out their cell phones and to take selfies to remember the moment. “This picture will be a moment in time to revisit in the future to remind yourself of where you’re going in life,” Boyd said during the graduation ceremony held at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on the N.C. Central University campus.
Thirty-seven students graduated from the Performance Learning Center (PLC) and another 12 from the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy (MJBA). As is the tradition for both programs, significant people in the students’ lives accompanied them across the stage to receive their diplomas while short student bios and future plans were read by program officials.
Many of the graduates have plans to attend Durham Technical Community College to gain work skills or course credits to transfer to a four-year college. Six of the graduates earned enough high school credits to graduate a year early.
Senteria Trueluck was the Class of 2016 valedictorian and Greta Marie West the salutatorian.
Boyd, who has spoken at Microsoft, Howard University and other prestigious companies and universities, said being able to return home to speak to Tuesday’s graduates was the most rewarding.
“This is by far the most meaningful opportunity I’ve had to speak,” Boyd said. “This is the first time that I’ve actually spoken in the city that I’m from.” Boyd said Durham is the city that made him. But he warned that it’s also a city that can deal a person significant setbacks.
He urged the graduates must think deeply about their futures. “Many of the adults in your life are unhappy with who they have become,” Boyd said. “They’re unhappy with what they do every day. It’s not because they’re bad people, it’s because they value the opinions of others.”
He offered the graduates a cheat-code to help them navigate life after graduation. “Don’t focus so much on what you want to do, focus on who you want to become,” Boyd said.